I remember a day when I wanted to give up. There was a large snow storm in Denver, a blizzard. The weather was terrifying outside and my life was feeling hopeless inside. My husband was mad at me, I hated myself, my oldest daughter was going through some stuff, my job sucked, and it just seemed that I was alone in the world. I drove East. I went as far as I could on I-70 then it was closed due to the blizzard. Semi trucks were heading over to 40 to continue on because it was the only highway open. I followed them. I ended up somewhere Kansas. I had went off the highway into a ditch and was helped out and told to drive straight to the hotel that was .5 miles away. I checked in, went to the room and planned for this to be my last night on earth. I laid on the bed and stared at the ceiling for hours upon hours. I had left my husband and my four kids in Denver hours earlier in an attempt to run away for “their own good”. In the long drive through a blizzard with zero visibility I had seen a vision of a light that told me the world was better off without Leslie.
I didn’t do anything, a matter of fact I fell asleep during all this intense thinking and woke the next morning thinking how stupid I was. I drove further East mostly out of stubbornness, thinking I needed to stick to an original plan even though I knew it was dumb. I wanted Chris to come and save me. And save me he did. I made it to a larger town and parked in the local Wal-Mart parking lot. I sat there and listened to the radio and tried to think of what I should do. I was sorry and I wanted to go home. It wasn’t 30 minutes into the town…probably 25 minutes sitting there…I was visited by the town cop. Actually two cops. They boxed in my car and started questioning me. They told me I could not park in this parking lot and rest from my trip. I had to either get back on the highway or get a hotel room. So, I got a hotel room…I am not really sure what else was said but they called my husband. Chris was on the next airplane to Wherever, KS to drive me home. What a dumbass I was.
Something that seems so hopeless while we are in the middle of it can look very workable when we step outside of ourselves. Of course it is many years later from this incident and I still know the hopeless feeling but I also know that there are ways to work through times like these.
I am not perfect and in no way experienced enough at anything to give solid tried and tested advice. I can only speak from the experience I do have under my belt and can speak to the things that do not work. I was overwhelmed with responsibility and stress. I had 4 kids, a husband, a huge job, and I was the wage earner, the mom and the wife. I had so many conflicting roles that I could not figure out how to stack together that I just broke down. I melted because I did not have the ability to fix what was broken in my own life.
Feeling like we are failing is a large rock tied to our ankles. We try to walk but we get slower from the weight holding us back. We become exhausted from the energy spent trying to pull the boulder. Looking at our children’s faces when we feel like a failure is hard. Looking at our spouses face when we feel like a failure is hard. Looking at our own face is impossible.
Failure comes in so many different forms. Failure to appear, failure to launch, failure to perform, failure to communicate, failure to obey, failure to connect. For me it was a clear case of failure to thrive. I was just “not doing well”. The dichotomy I created was impossible to live in. A clear division between the business side of me and the family side of me. I was trying to make myself two people who existed outside of the real me. The realization of what was happening to me was in the middle of the argument that sent me driving through the worst storm of the year.
My husband and I usually see eye to eye on almost everything concerning the house and kids. That was not true that day. I cannot for the life of me remember what the argument was about but we did not agree. This negativity was laid on top of my already bubbling volcano of stress. It started to spew when my husband told me that my family was not a business and he was not a client. He continued with I should not talk about home like it was a project at work. I had nothing to say back to that. I was confused and wondering when my entire vocabulary and demeanor had taken on such a cold business feel. Had I hurt not only my husband but my kids because of it? Was I making decisions at home based on business and decisions at work based on feeling? Had I completely messed up my conflicting roles and got everything reversed?
We worked it out, I went home and was not even gone very long at all. My veins started to fill with more love and compassion towards those around me, I went back to how I was at one time before. My husband opened my eyes to something that I did not want to become but had started to become subconsciously.
Today I need to find a way to release my stress all over again. I am older and the experiences keep adding up. When I get nervous I can feel myself go back to that cold business feeling. The “me” that could hide behind a title of responsibility, the “me” that could talk to a room of 500 and maybe even crack a joke, the “me” that was as fake as the friends that never showed after our son’s death.
I am convinced it is hard to be a woman in this world. It could be hard to be a man too but I don’t have that experience. When you are a woman who wants the best of both worlds and is trying to break ground as a female in a field that is primarily male dominated…..you change yourself. It is not something you even realize that you are doing at first, but then when you do realize…well, it pissed me off. I had sold myself short. I had tried to make myself exactly what I hated about business in the first place. I bought into the “no emotion”, “no passion”, “logic only”, type of life. Thank god I was saved.
My favorite line from any movie, anywhere, of all time comes from “You’ve Got Mail” when Meg Ryan’s character is suffering from a cold and Tom Hanks goes to visit her.
Joe Fox: It wasn’t… personal.
Kathleen Kelly: What is that supposed to mean? I am so sick of that. All that means is that it wasn’t personal to you. But it was personal to me. It’s *personal* to a lot of people. And what’s so wrong with being personal, anyway?
Joe Fox: Uh, nothing.
Kathleen Kelly: Whatever else anything is, it ought to begin by being personal.
And that my friends is the motto of the times for me………. Personal.
And really, I love daisies. They’re so friendly. Don’t you think daisies are the friendliest flower?